Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cool Chemistry Lab For Your Home School Science Curriculum

Chemistry makes a very interesting subject for a home school science curriculum, as it deals with the reaction between two substances, change of colors, and the production of heat, light and sound energy.

We see change all around us such as boiling of an egg, the popping of pop corn, the ripening of bananas, the baking of muffins, the burning of firewood, the bursting of a cracker, the tearing of a paper sheet, the lighting up of a match stick, the rotting of garbage, the rolling of dough, etc. Some changes are desirable, whereas others are unpleasant. Some of the above-mentioned changes are physical whereas some are chemical changes.

You will learn in your home school science curriculum that there are two types of changes: physical and chemical changes.

A physical change is a change in which the substance may look different, but it is the same substance. For example, when you tear a sheet of paper, the end result is pieces of paper, but it is still paper.

A chemical change is when the atoms within the molecules get rearranged to form a different substance. Also there is change of color and energy is either given out (exothermic) or absorbed (endothermic). For example, when you burn paper, the molecules that paper is made up of undergo a change and you get solid ash and gaseous molecules of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

How does one tell whether a change is a physical one or chemical one?

I'll give you Some Simple Tips.

It is a chemical change if:

    There is a change in the color
    A new substance is formed
    A precipitate is formed
    A gas (bubbles) is released
    Energy is released in the form of heat, light and sound (exothermic) and the substance gets hot
    Energy is absorbed (endothermic) and the substance becomes cold

Do This Now!

Your Home Chemistry Lab
The Lab Setup: You will require a sturdy table (a granite countertop is great). Cover the table with a plastic tablecloth. On the table place some small bottles with various liquids or powders (reactants), measuring spoons and muffin cups (instead of test tubes).

Materials: Water, rubbing alcohol, vinegar (acetic acid), citric acid (from your grocery store), clear dish liquid (Ivory), hydrogen peroxide, washing soda (sodium carbonate), baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), salt (sodium chloride), sugar, cream of tartar (grocery store), etc.

High School Chemistry Teacher Make The Subject More Interesting?

For a high school chemistry teacher, teaching kids can sometimes be a nightmare! High schools students can be a bit difficult to handle and when you are talking about chemistry, which is one of the most dreaded subjects, the problems gets even worse! The teacher has to make sure that the subject is interesting and students can easily understand it.

However, no need for teachers and to-be-teachers to get alarmed. Chemistry is indeed a very interesting subject. We are all surrounded by chemistry and chemical reactions are taking place inside our very own body! As a teacher, you need to show students that chemistry is not some boring and dull subject but is related to everyday life. Everything around us is made of atoms and molecules and many chemical reactions are going on around us as we speak.

Your very first class will set the tone of your coming classes. Set the kids at ease and engage them in an interesting topic. Get them excited about chemistry.

Relate chemistry to them.

For instance, teens usually like munching on snacks whenever they can lay their hands on them. Tell them about the chemical composition of snacks and chemical reactions that generate inside their bodies.

Or if you are talking about enzymes, why not explain them with the example of Jell-O and fruits? If you add certain fruits to Jell-O, it won't set. That is because some fruits contain enzymes proteases which stop the formation of bonds between Jell-O molecules. Interesting, right?

Teaching from a book is good but it might be harmful in the end if all you do is teach from text. Students might eventually lose interest. You have to engage them by using projectors and charts. This will also describe chemistry concepts better than concepts dictated directly from book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Important is Organic Chemistry to Medical Schools?

Often I am asked how much a medical school admissions officer will emphasize a student's grades in organic chemistry when assessing a candidate for admission. While this class is very important to admissions, it may not be so for the most obvious reasons.

In 2006, almost 40,000 students applied to medical school, of which less than 45% were accepted. The average applying student had a GPA of almost 3.5 and MCAT score of 27.6, while the average matriculating student had a GPA of 3.64 and an MCAT score of 30.4. Thus, it is obviously a very competitive endeavor. Now we need to examine how to give yourself an edge in that endeavor.

First, it must be acknowledged that the grade itself that one receives in organic chemistry will be duly noted be the admissions official and that an "A" will impress the most. In addition, the student's organic chemistry laboratory grade will also weigh in the admissions process. These grades are not just a part of your GPA, but are also a larger part of the "science GPA", which is also closely scrutinized by med schools.

Yet, organic chemistry could play a much greater role in medical acceptance than just a letter grade or part of a GPA. The oft-forgotten role that organic chemistry plays in medical school admissions is in the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT is separated into four sections (Physical Science, Verbal Reasoning, Writing Sample, and Biological Science) and has a perfect score of 45. While organic chemistry falls under the physical science section, what is not definitive is the amount of organic chemistry that the will comprise the section. The actual composition of the physical science section varies from exam to exam and could possibly be concentrated in organic chemistry. Should a student encounter a section heavy in organic chemistry, that student's grade in the course is going to be far less important than the effect it will have on the MCAT score. Thus, knowledge of organic chemistry is more essential to medical school admissions than just obtaining a good grade.